Sunderland open new Supporters Club Branch in North Korea

Exploring the Far East

Sunderland have announced that they are to open a Supporters Club Branch in North Korea, in what is being described as an attempt to ‘turn the DPRK Red and White’.

The project will be run by lifelong Sunderland supporter Tom Fowdy, who currently lives in the North Korean capital Pyongyang, where he organises visits for tourists to visit the communist nation.

Sunderland aren’t the first English side to have an affinity with North Korea, with non-league outfit Blyth Spartans having an advertising deal with Fowdy’s Visit North Korea company, which has been in place since December 2018.

The Black Cats have been doing plenty of work of late to increase interest in the club, famously filming the Netflix documentary ‘Sunderland ‘Til I Die’, which showed the ongoings during the club’s relegation season from the Championship.

On the Netflix series, Fowdy told the club’s official website: "It's been eye opening to see the mistakes and disappointments which brought our club down. It's tough to take sometimes, but I cannot say I am not happy with the publicity our club has been able to receive. It's been good for our profile."

It may not have been the successful PR coverage they were hoping for as they dropped further down the football pyramid down to League One, rather than return to the Premier League at the first time of asking like they had planned. However, as Fowdy notes, it's certainly helped raise the profile of the club.

The Far East market is one of the most lucrative in football, with fan bases in Asia growing all the time, though North Korea is one country that has been left largely untouched by the top clubs. However, Sunderland are now looking to become pioneers in the communist state by becoming the most-supported side there.

Sunderland Fans

Taking Sunderland global

Fowdy added: "Our plan is to raise awareness by donating a gradual flow of Sunderland merchandise to the country, including football shirts, scarfs and other memorabilia.

"We will look at donating to local schools, colleges and other institutions. North Koreans do love their football, but they have no access or resources to buy things like football shirts.

"This provides an incredible opportunity not just to develop our fanbase, but to engage in a profound act of charity as well to a people much less fortunate than our own.

"We are starting from scratch. That is the excitement of this challenge.

"They have an awareness of the Premier League and inevitably drift towards the "big teams", but we are going to connect with them in a personal way which no club has ever yet tried."

Twitter reactions

There has been a mixed reaction to the news that North Korea is the host of the newest Sunderland Supporters Club, as has been highlighted via Twitter. Check out some of the best Twitter reactions below.

Free Bets & Offers

🔴 Bet £5 & Get £20 FREE BETS! 🔴
FIRST SINGLE & E/W BET ONLY. ODDS OF 1/1 OR GREATER. 2 X £10 BET TOKENS. FREE BET STAKES NOT INCLUDED IN RETURNS. FREE BETS ARE NON WITHDRAWABLE. NO FREE BET EXPIRY. ELIGIBILITY RESTRICTIONS. FURTHER T&CS APPLY. 18+. BEGAMBLEAWARE.ORG
Claim Bonus
🏆 £20 Risk Free First Bet - Money Back in CASH 🏆
New customers only, limited to one per person. If you’ve previously had a Paddy Power account, you will not qualify for the offer. Place your first bet on any Sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £/€20. Only deposits made using Cards or Paypal will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
⚡️Get up to £100 in Bet Credits⚡️
New Customers only. Up to £100* in Bet Credits. Sign up, deposit £5* or more to your account and bet365 will match your qualifying deposit in Bet Credits when you place qualifying bets to the same value and they are settled. Min odds/bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. T&Cs, time limits & exclusions apply.
Claim Bonus
🙌 £20 Risk Free First Bet - Money Back in CASH! 🙌
New customers only. Minimum odds 1/5 (1.2). If you place a multiple at least one selection must meet the min odds requirement. Max £20 refund. Only deposits made using Cards or Applepay qualify. Qualifying bet must be placed and settled within 30 days of account opening. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
🟢 Money Back As Bonus Up To £40 If Your First Bet Loses + £10 Casino Bonus! 🟢
New customers only. 18+, BeGambleAware.org. Min deposit £10. Money back as bonus. Wagering requirements: Sportsbook 3x at min. odds of 1.40 (2/5), Casino 25x. Only one bonus can be used at a time, Sportsbook bonus must be wagered before using the Casino, unless the bonus has been forfeited. Bonus will expire after 7 days of opt-in.
Claim Bonus
🌟 Bet £5 & Get £30 in Bonuses 🌟
New Customers only. Deposit and place a £5 qualifying bet at odds of 2.00 or greater within 7 days of opening a new account; excludes cashed out bets. Receive 2x £10 Sports/Virtual Sports Free Bets, valid on set events only at odds 2.00 or greater, expires in 7 days, plus a £10 Casino Bonus, expires in 7 days. Wager the Casino Bonus 35x to withdraw winnings. Payment Cards only. Geographical Restrictions and T&Cs Apply. Please Gamble Responsibly
Claim Bonus
Get up to £30 in FREE BETS! ☑️
New UK & Ireland customers only. Min Deposit: £10. First deposit matched up to £30. 1 x wagering at odds of 1.75+ to unlock Free Bet. Debit Card & PayPal deposits only. Terms Apply
Claim Bonus
When The Fun Stops. Stop.